What makes a man, a man?

Is it how big he is? How much weight he can lift? How many other guys he can beat in a fight? How rich? What kind of car? How lofty his job position is?

We ALL know the answer to this question, and yet human beings tend to forget the really important “stuff” and skip right over to the things that are essentially irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.

The reality is, in the end there is really only one true measure of a “man,” (my thoughts) and that is how true he is to himself and those around him. His “authentic” level, if you will.

We can argue about putting God and Family first, that sort of thing that, YES, is incredibly important, BUT, in reality, IF you are being truly authentic, then you most likely have those things covered.

I’ve been wrestling with my “authenticity” as of late. I, like so many others, came up the hard way. I worked hard, pushed myself probably harder and faster than I ever really needed to go, and I’ve failed spectacularly on a noteworthy regular basis. So much for “all is takes is hard work.”

Being Authentic is about having the strength of character to believe in yourself, even when others can’t or won’t. Irrespective of their reasons, being true to you is believing that no matter what, you are worthy, you are unique, you are called, and yes, you are blessed.

Authenticity is also about being true to others. Telling the truth, listening to the truth, honoring the truth. I’ve also failed more than once on that score.

In all actuality, perhaps I’ve never truly BEEN authentic. I’ve been about everyone and everything, except myself and that makes me understand that unless I’m centered, grounded and focused on myself, I can never be truly authentic, truly intimate, with others.

I am learning.

I’ve never been a “fan” of therapy, or counseling. It always seemed to me to be something that was for other people with real problems. In fact, way back in the recesses of my mind, I truly felt that the “stigma” of seeing a therapist was real and true.

I was wrong – about so many things.

They say the first step in solving a problem is to admit that you have one. I get that when we’re talking about Alcohol, Drugs or any of those other “bad” things that one can get involved in and addicted to. I never understood that NOT understanding yourself, was even a “thing.”

My youngest daughter, who just happens to BE a mental health specialist, told me one evening nearly a year ago, that I needed therapy. My instant reaction was, WHAT? ME? There’s nothing wrong with me!

Almost before the words were out of my mouth, I realized that IF I was saying stuff like that, then I did, indeed, have a problem.

My problem really isn’t with other people, or even other things. My problem is ME. I went away at 16 years old, with zero knowledge of the world, and I’ve been learning about IT ever since. Through service, war, divorce, broken relationships, and every other thing that you can throw at a human, I’ve faced it all alone, secure in the “knowledge” that I’m a strong man who can handle whatever life throws my way, and it will never affect me because, well, because. I am not weak…

But I am. I am as weak as any other mortal and despite my ability to create the illusion of solidity, strength and acting formidable, I am simply just another soul in a weak human vessel, and my brain, like anyone else’s, is most assuredly impacted by things. I am, as they say, a product of my environment.

I recall, not long ago, not knowing where “home” was anymore. So many indicators that I was truly emotionally not well. Finally, SOMEONE had the temerity to speak truth to me, and for whatever reason, I accepted that truth.

And thus I am working on the new Bob 2.0…maybe 3.0 at this point. I’m learning about myself, spending time being introspective, doing a lot of deep thinking and emotional checking. And I have help. My wife of nearly 28 years, a Christian professional Counselor. The three of us are hard at work trying to figure out just who the heck this old man really is, and where he’s heading.

I know the final destination…I’ve always known that. The larger part of what’s truly “off” about Bob is that he has no filter when it comes to fear. I think I perhaps watched too many Superman TV shows when I was a kid or something. I don’t KNOW “how” to be afraid, I simply DON’T.

The thing that DOES “scare” me, sort of, is finding out that I can be scared. I don’t know that emotion, and I’m not at all sure I’m excited to discover it.

I guess we’ll just have to see.

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